Once again, I found articles posted on Facebook about Barnes & Noble closing its doors – this time for good. As you can imagine, with B&N being one of the last standing brick and mortar bookstore chains in the U.S., its fate is important to those of us in the industry – and it should be important to you as an author, too. Why? Because the fact is, avid readers love bookstores, having your book on the shelf of a mainstream bookstore is a huge boost in credibility to you as an author, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love to walk into a bookstore and sniff ink on freshly printed books?
The fact is, the death of Barnes & Noble would be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because, maybe, just maybe, with the megastore gone, small indie bookstores will have room to grow and thrive. A curse because in the interim of the possibility of indie stores making a comeback, those of us who enjoy browsing bookstore shelves and sniffing ink will have to settle for digitally sniffing Amazon in our search for the next book to devour. And that’s not quite as fun.
Either way, I figured as an expert in the publishing industry, I needed to do some digging… and here’s what I found:
First, the original article featured on Focus Magazine‘s website circulating social media is not written by an expert who did his research. It’s mere hype, possibly to get more love from Google and a boost in ratings for the blog. In less than 10 minutes of “digging” on the internet, I found several articles and news reports dating back to 2011 about the myth of B&N’s supposed “closing all its stores.” In fact, I didn’t even have to get past Page 1 of Google results to find this information.
Second, yes, Barnes & Noble has had plans since 2011 to phase out the traditional Nook reader, switch manufacturers for its Nook HD tablets to lessen production costs, and has been closing non-producing stores for the past few years. To the author’s credit of the article mentioned above, he did state B&N was closing 20 stores a year, which is true. In fact, according to this About.com report, the retail chain plans to close a total of 223 stores through the end of 2023. Yes, that’s a lot of stores. And what was not reported on that page is that B&N is opening approximately five stores each year in more profitable areas. Sad for those closing, but good for those of us who love books (despite the fact that I would still choose an indie bookstore any day over B&N…)
Third, the most recent report from ABC News on April 3, 2014 states while Barnes & Noble’s primary shareholder did in fact sell off most of their stock in the company and is in fact closing doors on non-profitable stores, the bookseller has actually surprised investors by “cutting losses and costs at a faster pace than expected.” The report also mentions that investors seem to be following Liberty Media’s lead in selling stock, so maybe the primary investor knows something the rest of the world does not. Only time will tell.
And finally, kudos to one of my Kindle in 30 Challenge members, Deborah Cook, for digging up this article posted on May 15, 2014 (in other words, recent news) from TheAlternativePress.com which is a response from Barnes & Noble’s CEO, Michael P. Huseby. He states, “Here’s the kicker that no Henny Penny wants to hear. People are actually coming back to bookstores more often than they have in years. Improving bookstores sales trends during fiscal 2014 indicate that customers are reigniting their love affair with physical books. This trend supports industry reports that suggest eBook growth has moderated and was essentially flat in 2013.”
So here’s the issue… Don’t believe everything posted on the internet. Don’t believe people who post hype on their sites hoping for hundreds of comments to increase their Google ranking. D0 believe the real reports and do some digging yourself.
Only the future can tell how long Barnes & Noble will be here for us to enjoy. And until we hear some reports with clear, un-hyped facts, I’m going to enjoy visiting my local B&N and sniffing the ink. See you in the Bargain Books aisle!
photo credit: Mike Mozart via photopin (license)